Monday September 27, 2021

A Hindu temple in Islamabad, finally

As the country began facing the worst of financial crises last year, traders at Super Market would learn how to sustain business from their Hindu counterparts.

“They are the real businesspeople. They buy carpets from us and they then sell these in a way we cannot,” a Chaman-based businessman had told me during an interview.

However successfully they might have run their shops, they did not have a place of worship for them. There are a little less than 1,000 Hindus living in the federal capital.

Finally, the prime minister Friday ordered release for funds for construction of Krishna Temple in Sector H-9.

The temple is built on a four-kanal plot and MNA Lal Malhi laid its foundation stone on Tuesday.

If you look at the demographic aspect, it may not be very logical to dedicate a four-kanal plot for worship of hardly 1,000 people who could easily go to temples in Rawalpindi to perform their religious rituals.

But it is a welcome move as Islamabad is an ideal tourism corridor connecting the historic Taxila region with Murree. It has very dominant signs of once thriving Budha and Hinduism habitats on its mountains.

Caves of Shah Allah Ditta are also known as Budha Caves where Buddhist monks used to meditate. Similarly, Prof Dani, whose work in archeological history of the region is matchless and his name needs no introduction, had related the frescos and carving in Bari Imam caves to old Budha days in the region. Islamabad still has about 2,000 budhists.

Construction of a temple will offer residents of the city a window to peep into the region’s past.

In addition construction of such places addresses to bigger issues than demography. They are symbols of tolerance, bonhomie and openness of a society.

Federal capitals are frequented by international dignitaries, who take interest in provision of facilities to minorities. Governments keep this aspect under consideration making such decisions as construction of a worship place.

It has a political dimension too, which is very explosive. Political parties, barring one or two, drag religion in their fights to outdo their rivals.

Above all, there are interest groups whose sole survival is on the donations from international bodies. They keep on turning out reports upon reports mentioning how minorities are exploited in Pakistan to justify their demands for delivery of funds to stop it. Even minorities members do not know that they are being exploited the way it has been mentioned in those reports. Neither do they know that they have been rescued from this imaginary exploitation by authors of these reports.

Now it is time for Hindu community to take care of the fact that this worship place is used for what it is meant for.

They should desist attempts of those, from within or without, who want to use this facility to extract political gains as they will reduce this temple to a political pawn. They should also stand in the way of the report writers who will bring it down to a money-making machine. At the end, this worship place is a good addition to Islamabad.